Literary vs Genre Fiction

I loved this recent post on SF Signal, “10 Literary Novels for Genre Readers”,  regarding the age-old Literary vs. Genre fiction debate:  “There need not be a chasm between movements, however, as genre and literary fiction can be quite complementary to one another. Certainly no one aspect of literature can lay claim to a higher standard of quality. While literary fiction can be a window into the human condition, it can also be pretentious and overbearing. Genre fiction can be full of inspiring ideas but it can also be wooden and derivative. The opportunity for a book to be crap isn’t limited by the bookstore shelf it lands on.”

Amen!  This is something I’ve tried to explore a bit here on Book Group Buzz, being rather adverse to literary fiction, myself.

Do you find your book club tends to only read literary fiction?  Or do they not care/not notice if you’re reading genre fiction?  In all honesty… does your average reader really care or make the distinction?



About the Author:

Rebecca Vnuk is the editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach at Booklist. She is also the author of 3 reader’s-advisory nonfiction books: Read On…Women’s Fiction (2009), Women’s Fiction: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests (2014), and Women’s Fiction Authors: A Research Guide (2009). Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_RVnuk.

3 Comments on "Literary vs Genre Fiction"

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  1.' Julie says:

    I firmly agree with you! While I know my fair share of readers that refuse to cross genres, I often point out to them that books like Harry Potter, Twilight, and LotR are genre fiction, and they find themselves surprised to see they liked it. There are also similar titles for the other side. When it gets down to it, good books are good books.

  2.' Joanna says:

    My library’s book group tends to read literary fiction, I picked a Laura Lipman book once as an experiment, but conversation kind of fizzled and I got a kind of puzzled “Why did we choose this book?” reaction. At the same time several members didn’t like “Late Nights on Air” which is rather literary and won the Giller Prize because parts moved “too slowly.” So for book groups maybe it’s the combination of reader tastes that defines what type of reaction you get. I don’t think my group really makes a distinction between literary and genre, but they just want quality writing on a topic that will engage them and like books they may not have otherwise read.

  3.' Aine Greaney says:

    I’m not sure the lines between genres are that well defined anymore–nor should they be. I tend to be a literary writer, but more and more, I want the book to entertain and charm as well as make me think. In my opinion, MFAs, M.A.s and other college-based writing programs over-emphasize literary fiction as the only and default prototype of fiction writing.

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